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What you need to know about drowsy driving

Generally speaking, there's only one thing you need to know about drowsy driving: It's extremely dangerous.

If you ever find yourself drowsy when behind the wheel, it's best to move to safety and think long and hard about what to do next.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one out of 25 adult drivers has admitted to falling asleep while driving over the past 30 days.

Drowsiness is a big problem for many reasons, including the following:

  • It slows your reaction time, such as if you need to suddenly brake or swerve
  • It makes it more difficult to pay attention to the road
  • It affects your ability to make good decisions

While anyone can become drowsy while driving, these groups of people are more likely to do so:

  • Anyone with a sleep disorder
  • Anyone who is taking medication that makes them drowsy
  • Commercial drivers who spend many consecutive hours behind the wheel
  • Shift workers

The signs of drowsy driving are easy to pinpoint, as long as you know what you're looking for. The most common signs include:

  • Drifting out of your lane
  • Missing your exit, driving through a red light or ignoring a stop sign
  • Difficulty remembering what you've experienced over the past few miles
  • Constant yawning and blinking
  • Hitting or nearly hitting objects on the side of the road, such as parked vehicles and signs

There are many ways to prevent drowsy driving, including the following:

  • Always get enough sleep before taking to the road
  • Talk to your doctor if you feel that you have a sleep disorder
  • Don't take medication or drink alcohol before driving
  • Take regular breaks to keep your mind alert

Even if you have a plan in place to prevent drowsy driving, others may not take the same level of care. For example, commercial truck drivers are often on the road during the nighttime hours, which makes it more difficult to remain alert (even if they've stopped to rest).

If you're injured in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, move to safety, call 911 and receive medical treatment at a local hospital.

As soon as possible, contact your insurance agent, collect information pertaining to the accident and seek compensation from the negligent party.

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